NFNV-WLFI: Advancing financial inclusion for women-owned nano enterprises
New Faces New Voices (NFNV) Nigeria recently held the first leg of its Women Leadership and Financial Inclusion (WLFI) workshop series in Kano, focused on enhancing financial inclusion of women in Nano, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (NMSMES).
The hybrid NFNV-WLFI workshop, which drew experts and stakeholders in finance and business, delved into diverse financing opportunities women entrepreneurs across formal and informal sectors could take advantage of to restart and boost their enterprises, post-Covid-19. This was in a bid to economically empower them and amplify women’s contribution to Nigeria’s economic growth.
NFNV-Nigeria Country Director Ms Aishatu Debola Aminu, while giving her welcome address, said women entrepreneurs constitute up to 50% of MSMEs’ ownership in Nigeria, which means they contribute a large quota to employment, economic growth and foreign exchange earnings in the country. Accordingly, she said the WLFI workshop series was aimed at ensuring women’s financial inclusion not only in Nigeria but across Africa, as similar workshops were being held across the continent.
“Women entrepreneurs are confronted with a myriad of challenges such as lack of inclusive access to financial products, business structures, access to market, and socio-cultural bias, amongst others. This workshop seeks to create a synergistic, collaborative and mutually beneficial platform on which northern women entrepreneurs can engage effectively for profitability and productivity in the region,” she said.
Alhaji Shehu Muhammed, Sarkin Shanu of Kano cum NFNV-Nigeria patron, in his goodwill message said for women’s financial inclusion to be enhanced in Nigeria, women must seek to occupy key decision and policymaking positions in the country, in which capacity they can effectively promote women’s financial empowerment, since currently men have dominated such positions at the determinant of women’s financial empowerment.
“I encourage women to become actively involved in politics so as to bridge the gender gap in decision making in the country; gender-related financial inclusion will be greatly enhanced if women are in key decision-making roles,” Alhaji Muhammed said, adding that women’s financial inclusion would immensely benefit society both economically and socially.
He highlighted low-income rates, lack of education among women, socio-cultural norms, as well as lack of awareness about financial services among women in northern Nigeria as major barriers to women’s access to finance, noting that if these impediments were meaningfully mitigated, access to financing would be greatly enhanced among women in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Mr Ali Mohammed, a finance stakeholder in northern Nigeria, said the proliferation of nano enterprises (instead of MSMEs) was due to low-level access to capital. He noted that although a bulk of active players in Nigeria’s entrepreneurship space were women, unfortunately a large percentage of them were not financially included, adding that most women-owned NMSMEs in the country were established with between N500-N50,000 as startup capital due to lack of access to loans.
“There are financial services and products that are targeted at women-owned MSMEs, which, if they take advantage of, will significantly improve their mode of doing business and enhance their standard of living. Having separate bank accounts for your businesses and personal affairs is very crucial for the growth of your business,” the financial expert told the women entrepreneurs.
Mr Mohammed noted that women could grow their businesses from the nano stage to micro and subsequently even to larger enterprises if they take advantage of the products and services being provided by financial institutions as well as, leveraging the opportunity of doing business online.
Mrs Helen Emumwem, NFNV-Nigeria Gender Consultant, decried the prevailing conflicting statistics on the level of women’s financial inclusion in the country, asserting that women were still financially disadvantaged because the conditions of accessing finance do not favour women.
“The requirements to access funding to start a business or run an existing one does not favour women and unless there are clear-cut policies to aid women’s access to funding for business, especially in the digital economy, women will continue to struggle. Addressing the barriers to women’s access to financing will further contribute to boosting wealth creation as women are resourceful and resilient business operators,” she asserted.
Despite the difficulties and unforeseen circumstances brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, women entrepreneurs have proved to be strong and resilient against these challenges, hence the ability of women-owned businesses to bounce back from the impacts of the pandemic, which further underscores the importance of women’s financial inclusion.
Ms Zuwaira Yarima, one of the workshop participants who trades in organic women’s beauty products (in wholesale and retail quantities) said she struggles to market such products as people do not understand the value of her products. Thus, she said individuals would buy her original products, only to adulterate and resell them at a cheaper price, which makes the price of her products look expensive. She said, having now understood how to obtain bank loans, she would be able to deal with the threat facing her enterprise.
Like Yarima, Ms Fatima Ma’aji said she was now looking forward to partnering with a bank to advance her business as competition and the paucity of financing has made her enterprise unstable and made her unable to smoothly run her business. In this vein, she said the NFNV-WLFI workshop has equipped her with the necessary skills to help her business flourish.
Women entrepreneurs, particularly in northern Nigeria, are faced with numerous challenges militating against their ability to thrive. Therefore, the NFNV-WLFI workshop was a step in the right direction aimed at fostering inclusivity in access to financial services and access to market, while also discouraging socio-cultural practices that militate against financial inclusion.
Brahma Kumaris commemorates Africa Day 2023
Brahma Kumaris, a worldwide spiritual movement dedicated to personal transformation and wo…
NFNV is one of kind. Please keep the excellent work moving as the Sky is the Organization stepping stone.